Relationships are very important in doing business in Argentina. Thus, U.S. businesspeople should take the time to develop a close personal relationship with their agent, representative, distributor, or other business partner. Argentine business and customs are generally more formal than those in the United States. Business dress, appearance, and general demeanor are more conservative.
Courtesy is very important, and efforts to rush a business deal are unlikely to meet with success. No encounter starts with a business discussion. To establish trust, some time spent discussing family members, sports, and social activities will be fundamental to the development of a solid business relationship. It is important to shake hands with everyone in the room upon arriving and leaving. Among Argentines, it is customary for men to kiss women they meet for the first time on the right cheek. However, Americans should shake hands with Argentine women, until a friendly relationship has been established.
Contacts and introductions are important. Therefore, it is advisable to use the services of the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, or other organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce, industry associations, and other intermediaries, rather than reliance on a direct "cold call" approach. The U.S. Commercial Service in Argentina offers a complete package of services for the U.S. businessperson to meet with potential business partners.
It is important that you be prompt to business meetings, though your Argentine contact may be slightly late, and always have a pre-arranged appointment. Be sure to have an ample supply of business cards. Although not essential, it is beneficial to have cards printed in Spanish as well as English.
One cultural note is that it is better form not to say you are from "America." In Latin America, the term "America" denotes both North and South America, not just the United States. Therefore, it is better to call yourself a North American (norteamericano).
The Argentine currency is the peso and is signified by the same symbol ($) as the U.S. dollar. ATM machines are widely available in Buenos Aires, allowing travelers with a variety of credit or debit cards to withdraw funds automatically in local currency. Although usually accepted at most hotels, traveler’s checks are often refused by business establishments and can be difficult or expensive to change at banks. At this time for each dollar you will have the official rate and the “blue market” which is really a “black market.”
It is important to consider that all Argentines have a 35 percent overall tax for all foreign purchases, including travel services and airline tickets. Please note that you will be required to pay for hotels, air travel, the buquebus, and other travel costs (excluding local mass transit) with non-Argentine currency (normally hard currency such as dollars and euros) or with a credit card not in Argentine currency.
Please consult the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs web site for general travel information and the site's section on Travel Warnings for country-specific information: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/argentina.html.
Visas are not required for U.S. citizens traveling to Argentina for up to 90 days of tourism or business, except holders of U.S. Diplomatic and Official passports. However, the Argentine government implemented a reciprocal Visa Fee on all foreign nationals whose governments require visas of Argentines. For U.S. citizens, this fee is $160.00 and the visa is valid for ten years and multiple entries into Argentina. This fee must be paid online prior to traveling to Argentina and the traveler must print and carry the payment confirmation to present at the airport upon arrival in Argentina. Cash payments are NOT accepted at the airport once the traveler has arrived in Argentina. To pay the reciprocity fee online, go to http://www.provinciapagos.com.ar/dnm/ and complete the form. Click on “Acceder” in the lower right corner and on the page that opens, click on the U.S. flag for the English version of the form. Within one business day, you will receive an email confirmation that your Reciprocity Fee has been paid. Print this receipt and present at the airport upon your arrival in Argentina. The reciprocity fee is good for 10 years as long as you show a stamp in a passport showing prior entrance to Argentina following payment of the fee.
For additional time in Argentina, visitors may request an extension of stay up to 90 days from the Argentine Immigration Service at:
Dirección Nacional de Migraciones
Av. Antártida Argentina 1355, Edificio 1, Piso 1
C1104AC Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: (54-11) 4311-7695 or 4313-2777
Fax: (54-11) 4313-1778
Argentine citizens traveling to the United States for any purpose require a U.S. visa. For more information on U.S. visa application procedures, visit http://argentina.usembassy.gov/nonimmigrant_visas.html.
Work and other Extended Visas
Although it is theoretically possible to arrange a work permit following arrival in Argentina, the process is much more complicated and time-consuming than applying for the work visa while abroad, and one may not legally begin remunerated employment until permission has been granted. Therefore, it is important to begin the work visa process as early as possible by applying at an Argentine consular office in the United States or abroad. This process can still be quite lengthy and require many civil documents (e.g. birth and marriage certificates) and police certificates. U.S. civil documents submitted to Argentine consular offices do not require Argentine consular certification. The Government of Argentina requires only a Hague Convention apostille certificate from the Secretary of State of the U.S. state where the document was issued or from the U.S. Department of State for U.S. federal government-issued documents.
Argentine immigration law provides for the following temporary and permanent resident categories and conditions:
There are special immigration provisions for some foreign professional, scientific, or technical research personnel hired abroad to render services in Argentina for a maximum of two years. The individual must not be a resident in Argentina and must be covered for contingencies such as old age, disability, or death by the law of their own country.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.
Telephone service, both international and local is adequate, with several providers such as Telecom, Telefónica, Claro, Nextel and Movistar, among others, offering service. At the time of this writing no 4G service was available, though at least one company advertises its availability. Visitors should be aware that the telecommunications system is currently saturated. Many calls are dropped or cannot be connected, and data coverage is spotty on smart phones. New investments are expected within the next year. There is also a wide range of cable television channels available, including CNN International, CNN en Español, FOX, WB, Sony, MTV, and channels from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere.
The electric current in Argentina is AC 220 volts, 50 cycles in the case of one phase; AC 380 volts, 50 cycles for three phase. Electric plug configurations are usually 2-3 flat pins with the top two slightly angled to form a "Y" shape or two round-tipped straight pins. Most hotels that cater to businesspeople have installed U.S.-standard outlets in their guest rooms.
U.S. carriers flying to Argentina include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United. The primary gateways are Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and New York. The Argentine carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas, also flies between the United States and Argentina. Many other airlines connect through third countries. Also, in-country travel, and travel between Argentina and other South American countries, is widely available from a variety of Argentine and foreign carriers. Two main airports serve Buenos Aires: Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, which is located near downtown serving domestic flights and some regional flights to Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay; and Ezeiza International Airport, which is a 45-minute drive from Buenos Aires, serving all other international flights, including those from the United States.
Taxis are plentiful and fares are reasonable, and are generally the most effective way of moving around Buenos Aires. A widely available private car service, called "remis", is also available and is the recommended method of travel from Ezeiza International Airport into Buenos Aires. Remis services have counters at the airport. For security reasons, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires recommends that travelers use either remises or radio taxis, rather than hailing taxis on the street.
Travel in Argentina can be accomplished by train, bus, or car, although air travel is recommended for many trips to key cities in the provinces due to large distances.
Automobile rental is available throughout the country, although it is quite expensive compared to U.S. rental costs. Travelers should be aware that Argentina has a high rate of auto accidents, and driving is not recommended for short visits.
Spanish is the national language of Argentina, although many businesspeople speak English as well as other European languages. Do not assume, however, that your contacts will speak English. Although some of your contacts may speak some English socially, do not assume that they will want to conduct business meetings in English. Therefore, hiring an interpreter is highly recommended for business meetings. The U.S. Commercial Service in Argentina can assist you in selecting an interpreter for your business meetings. For U.S. businesspeople that already speak Spanish, note that Argentina has distinct differences in pronunciation, cadence, and vocabulary.
Almost all business in Argentina is transacted in Spanish, and all documents and records must be in that language to constitute valid evidence. Business documents in a foreign language should be translated by a certified public translator to be presented for legal purposes to Argentine authorities. A list of certified public translators is available upon request from the U.S. Commercial Service in Argentina (Office.BuenosAires@trade.gov).
Buenos Aires has no particular health risks and no special precautions need to be taken. Sanitary conditions are good and tap water is safe to drink. Many competent doctors, dentists, and specialists are available in Buenos Aires. It should be noted, however, that import restrictions have reduced the local availability of some medicines and medical equipment. It is advisable to carry any critical medications. Outside of Buenos Aires or other major cities, basic precautions, such as drinking bottled water, are recommended. Prior to travelling to Argentina, it is advisable to consult with your medical professional and review the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs web site for general travel information: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/health.html.
Argentina is three hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (UTC). Argentina is + 1 hour U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (Summer Time) and +2 hours Eastern Standard Time (Winter). The 24-hour system is used rather than the 12-hour a.m./p.m. system. There is only one time zone for all of Argentina. Click here for the current time in Argentina.
Business office hours are Monday through Friday from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. (two hours earlier for factories) with a one-hour lunch break. Work luncheons are frequent for business people and they generally extend from 1.00 to 3.00 p.m. Business dinners, and dinners in general, begin at 9.00 p.m. Most retail stores are open from 9.00/10.00 a.m. to between 6.00 and 9.00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Banks are open to the public from Monday through Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
Since Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer in the United States is winter in Argentina, and vice versa. School summer vacations take place from approximately Christmas to March, instead of June through August, and there is a two-week winter school vacation in July. It is often difficult to conduct business in Argentina in January and February, since most businesses are either closed or working on a limited schedule. Ask your business contacts when it is best to come, and plan travel times and clothing accordingly. Summer, which occurs from December through March, is hot and humid in Buenos Aires. The coldest months are July and August (winter), with temperatures between the 30s and 50s.
Argentine National Holidays for 2015:
New Year’s Day
Thursday, January 1
According to Argentine law, personal working elements such as laptop computers, cellular phones, and other tools must be registered at Customs at the time of entry and again upon departure from Argentina. Samples brought into the country by a traveling salesperson are admitted free of duty provided they have no commercial value. Otherwise, the traveler may be required to deposit a 90-day bond that is refunded when the goods leaving the country.
Argentina is not a party to the A.T.A. Carnet (Temporary Admission) program of the U.S. Council for International Business to import goods, display booths, and literature for display in local trade shows for subsequent re-export. The Argentine Temporary Admission Regime (TAR) allows duty free admission of goods such as commercial samples, packaging, pallets, containers, and goods for exhibits. These items must be re-exported within the timeframe stipulated by Customs on entering the country. Many trade show organizers are able to obtain a special waiver from the Argentine government on a case-by-case basis.